In his book Two Awesome Hours Josh Davis draws from his experience in neuroscience and writes on how to be effective with our work instead of solely focusing on efficiency. He explains how to use biology to work for us instead of against us. It’s science and stuff.
One of the biggest themes of his book is to learn to take advantage of what he calls “decision points”. These are the moments when we snap out of our workflow before tackling another item on our to-do list. The usual way is to jump to the next task straight away but he argues that we should savour these moments and decide what’s important instead of what’s urgent – a principle used by Stephen R Covey in The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People.
It might even mean letting our minds wander for a short time before coming back to the present.
I believe that we should use similar decision points to our advantage to improve our eating habits. I guess, in a way, it all comes back to mindfulness, backed with science. Which pretty much equals mindfulness on Red Bull.
Most of the time we function on autopilot, our actions are non-conscious routines. It doesn’t mean that we are not aware of our actions but rather that they are well-rehearsed and learned and require only a little conscious monitoring. Think brushing your teeth or changing gears on a car. Most of the time it’s good that we go on autopilot as it saves us a lot of decision making, therefore saving mental energy for difficult and important decisions.
The problem is that we use these same automated habits to make less than optimal choices with our eating. You churn your way through a bowl of M&M’s, one fistful at a time while tackling the curveballs that your job throws at you. You do it on autopilot.
So Joonas, what can I do to make better decisions with food? Well, funny you should ask as I’ve got few suggestions. When you feel the urge to eat – whether out of boredom or actually hungry – take a moment, look away from the computer or take a short stroll and ask yourself what you really feel like, what would make you feel better for the rest of the day. Are you really hungry? Do you need a small or large serve? Savoury or sweet? Crisp or soft?
Once you listen to what you really want you are more likely to eat a moderate amount of it until you are satisfied instead of mindlessly eating everything in sight. It’s all about attention and intention. Of course if you’ve planned ahead and prepared a meal at home, this decision is easy.
Once you’ve decided what you are going to eat, take your time while eating. Don’t try to work at the same time, don’t check Facebook or email. Just eat and think about double rainbows or something. Stop after each bite and really taste the food. Instead of just shoving food in like it’s about to run out, stop briefly after each mouthful to check in: am I getting full, have I had enough? What flavours can I taste? Does this cracker taste like cardboard? Not only will you have more energy after the meal as you don’t end up overeating but you will also taste all the flavours in the food making the whole experience more enjoyable.
Now, if you are unable to only focus on eating because you are busy, you might benefit from reading the book I mentioned earlier to be more effective with what you do. That way you can eventually devote enough time for eating.
Actions to take:
– Make use of decision points by taking a moment to ask yourself what you really want to eat instead eating whatever is in sight.
– Eat slowly by taking at least 20 bites with each mouthful.
– When you eat, just eat. No Facebook, email or videos of monkeys doing somersaults.
– If having a full meal stop at 80% full or if having a snack stop once you feel like you’ve had enough. If you eat slowly you know when “enough” arrives.
Two Awesome Hours: Science-Beased Strategies to Harness Your Best Time and Get Your Most Important Work Done